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Ahead of the last Bank Holiday of the year, new research from Three Business reveals the huge contribution that the Summer Economy makes to the UK economy.
The research shows coastal SMEs contribute £3.15bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy, supporting 269,000 jobs and 10,900 SMEs across the nation.
Despite a damp start, business leaders from Brighton say that “trade is up since last summer, which creates a buzz around the city and has provided a vital boost for our businesses”. This builds on the positive outlook from the start of the summer, when nearly two thirds believed the summer months would be good for their business. Naturally, seaside businesses are reliant on a successful summer period, from June to August, and generate almost half of their annual turnover in this period.
Of those businesses surveyed, nearly three quarters (70%) say their area has become more popular with tourists since the pandemic and the same amount believe their business has benefitted from increased holiday-maker numbers.
This matches YouGov Travel Profiles research, which showed that over half of people in the UK planned to spend their leisure time at home in 2023. An analysis of Three’s network data reflects this increased footfall in tourist hotspots like Brighton and Blackpool, where network usage was up 60% when compared to last year’s summer season.
SMEs need unique support to relieve pressure
However, more than three in five of the coastal businesses surveyed say the summer months bring additional pressure on their business.
This includes recruitment of seasonal workers, which over three quarters of the coastal businesses surveyed rely on, but nearly two in five say finding seasonal workers is a struggle.
Connectivity – including phone data and internet connection – is another key challenge for coastal SMEs. Almost all of those surveyed said connectivity was important to the everyday running of their business for reasons including taking card payments while out serving customers, communicating with staff who are working in nearby pop ups, or offering free Wi-Fi to their customers, which almost half do.
Meanwhile, 45% feel their business is losing money on fixed contracts, and over half wish they could scale their phone contracts to reflect seasonal demand.
This underlines the importance of understanding coastal businesses’ unique needs, as over two thirds say the way they operate is vastly different from SMEs based elsewhere.
Snehal Bhudia, Director of Propositions and Marketing, Three Business, commented: “Brits are known for their determination to enjoy their summer plans come rain or shine – which is lucky given the wash-out we saw in July. The summer months are such a crucial trading period for coastal businesses, as our data shows, particularly bumper bank holiday weekends like the ones we had in May and the upcoming August bank holiday. Flexible and affordable 5G connectivity goes a long way to enabling coastal businesses in making the most of this busy period.”
Also commenting, Susan Hammond, Shop Manager at Toby Tiger, Brighton says: “After a slow start to July, we have seen footfall pick up since the beginning of the school holidays as tourists come to the city despite the up and down weather, and we are hopeful that summer will still provide the bulk of our sales this year.
“So much has changed since we opened our store in 1998, with technology developments allowing us to connect and remain in contact with a much wider group of customers. This is particularly important in the summer months when visitors seek out our North Lanes store after seeing our products online.”
Kyriakos Baxevanis, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Little Jasmine Therapies and Spa and Greek restaurant, Nostos, Brighton adds: “Summer is one of the busiest periods for our businesses as tourists flood to Brighton’s streets and create a buzz around the city. Despite the poor weather and pressure on everyone’s finances, customers have continued to come. Our spa business has seen a 10% increase in trade compared to last summer, showing holidaymakers’ enduring desire to treat themselves and providing a vital boost for our business.”